THE UNSTOPPABLE GROWTH OF GLOBAL GHG EMISSIONS
Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2022. Robert Lyman’s bio can be read here.
Advocates of the thesis that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing catastrophic climate change claim that United Nations-led international conferences will succeed in causing the countries of the world collectively to radically reduce fossil fuel use by 2050.
The “climate change” issue is a global one. It concerns the global effects of global emissions and the possibility that collective action by all the countries of the world (or, at least, the vast majority of major emitters) can so reduce emissions and concentrations as to eventually change global impacts. Since 1992, there has been a series of international conferences, mostly under the auspices of the United Nations, seeking agreement on how, by how much, and when to reduce emissions. In spite of these conferences and the series of agreements and lofty political statements they have produced, emissions actually rose by 60 per cent from 1990 to 2020. By 2021, China alone accounted for 30 per cent of world emissions, and was the fastest-growing source of emissions, followed by India.
According to the British Petroleum Statistical Review of World Energy 2022, the growth in emissions in the non-OECD countries over the last decade is more than double the reduction of emissions in the OECD countries. The increase in China’s emissions over the last decade exceeded the reduction in emissions by the entire OECD group over the same period.
The trends in global energy demand over the past year have provided even further proof of the continued dominance of hydrocarbon energy in the world economy. According to Our World in Data, in 2021 the global use of oil, natural gas and coal as measured in exajoules (EJ) grew by 10.5, 7.7 and 8.7 EJ respectively, resulting in a one-year increase in hydrocarbon consumption of 26.9 EJ. In 2021, wind and solar consumption grew by 3.4 and 2.1 EJ respectively, for a total of 5.5 EJ. Thus, in 2021, global hydrocarbon consumption grew nearly five times faster than the growth in wind and solar combined.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, one of the most authoritative sources, projects that global emissions will increase from about 35 billion tonnes in 2021 to about 43 billion tonnes by 2050.
Contrary to the general public perception, there are no international legal obligations to reduce GHG emissions and no legally-binding penalties for failing to do so. The governments of the non-OECD countries have made no secret of the fact that they place increasing economic development and achieving rising living standards for their people as priorities above reducing GHG emissions. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement and other treaties based on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, any emission reduction commitments made by developing nations are contingent on developed countries giving them enough technology and, more importantly, sufficient funds. India and other developing countries banded together before the 2021 Glasgow conference to jointly demand about $1.3 trillion in “climate financing” every year from 2026 to 2030, over and above the $100 billion per year that rich countries have already promised (but never paid).
Faced by other demands from their own citizens, the wealthier countries must refuse this enormous sum. Under these circumstances, it is virtually certain that economic development-driven expenditures in the poorer countries will cause global GHG emissions to continue rising indefinitely. This is precisely the opposite of what the IPCC claims must happen if its emissions reduction goals are to be met.
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